Michael Frayn’s Story

Frayn3721 Aida Edemariam on Michael Frayn, his new play and theatrical performance, in The Guardian:

Michael Frayn’s new play, Afterlife, like Democracy and Copenhagen, takes a real historical incident as its starting point. Like Copenhagen it cycles deftly through the years, each cycle getting at something new, some different layer of meaning, like simultaneously spinning plates. As in Noises Off, there is a play within a play; like many of his plays, it is acutely aware of its theatricality.

“It seems to me that the theatre’s just a very clear example of what we all do all the time in life – we’re both performing and being the audience,” says Frayn, long limbs folding into the corner of a sofa in the home he shares with his wife, biographer Claire Tomalin, in Petersham, south-west London. He has a monumental head, and a deep quiet rumble of a voice, often directed inward. “Even as we sit here I am being the audience when you ask a question. When I reply, I take over the performance, and you’re the audience. The theatre’s only an extension of that.”

Most dramatists, he writes in Stage Directions, a new collection of his writing on the theatre, “start young, when they are full of passion and certainty; and often, by the age of 36, which I was when my first play was produced, have already got it out of their system, and sunk exhausted into obscurity, celebrity, or drink.”